CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – A former Iowa State Patrol trooper has pled guilty to a civil rights violation in connection with a traffic stop in 2017.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa said Robert James Smith, 56, pleaded guilty Monday to Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law.
Smith was initially charged with unreasonable force causing bodily injury for his actions during the September 25, 2017, traffic stop near West Liberty. Court records show he saw a motorcycle traveling above the speed limit on I-80 and pulled driver Bryce Yakish over after he exited I-80.
Dashcam video of the incident shows Smith hitting Bryce Yakish, who was standing next his motorcycle with his hands in the air, on the chin with an open palm. Yakish fell back over his motorcycle and Smith then knelt on him and handcuffed Yakish.
In his plea agreement, Smith admitted hitting Yakish was an unreasonable use of force.
A jury trial on the initial charge was held in July of 2022, but the jury wasn’t able to reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared.
A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled for Smith, but according to the U.S. Department of Justice, “The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.”